Since wedding gown shopping can often be the biggest high-consideration experience in a bride-to-be’s life, the process is often stressful. But what can make it even more stressful is that the traditional shopping model rarely caters to younger consumers. When developing Floravere, Co-Founders Molly Kang and Denise Jin sought to disrupt the bridal gown and accessory industry through a more consumer-friendly direct-to-consumer business model, all while providing high-quality designer brand runway dresses at a low price.
One key reason why gown selection can be a major stress point: wedding boutiques typically carry limited sizing samples, and bridal sizing traditionally runs small compared to contemporary fashion. Floravere makes and carries gowns from sizes 0 to 26, and offers samples that cover a range of street sizes from 6 to 24, well beyond the typical 0 to 12 sizing system. In addition to the sizing issue, Kang and Jin felt the need to address the overall limited scope of gowns offered online ahead of the in-store try-on experience.
“The biggest disconnect I saw in the bridal industry is that you would walk into a bridal store and you have no idea what assortment they carry, there’s no real web site to browse for that assortment in advance and you don’t even know how much the dresses are worth,” Kang said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “It was a good opportunity to create a retail experience that understands the shopper that has done her research, and has been on Instagram and Pinterest.”
While product discovery can be a differentiator (and part of the appeal) for many retailers, the Floravere brand is specifically designed to validate the decisions already made within this research process.
Kang noted that 80% of Floravere customers look at social media for research and inspiration before coming into one of the company’s nine hotel-based showrooms. Capitalizing on such a high level of social engagement outside the store, the DTC brand enables brides to set up private appointments with a stylist on the brand’s web site, through Instagram direct message and via text.
Floravere Breaks Ground With NYC Flagship Store
In April, the Los Angeles based Floravere built its first brick-and-mortar store in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood. Floravere’s collection of gowns and separates will anchor the space.
“We wanted the store to feel a lot more residential than commercial,” said Kang. “We wanted you to come in and feel relaxed. How do we make it feel like a home, a high-end hotel or a beautiful apartment? When you walk in, you actually don’t see any dresses. There’s a living room and a wet bar where the stylist will meet you and serve you a drink, take your coat and get more information about you.”
Like its hotel showrooms, the NYC flagship is designed to carry the bride-to-be’s favorite styles based on her communication with the stylist. But this location is designed to add even more value from a personalization standpoint. The shopper’s requested items will be waiting for her in a private suite when she arrives at the store, along with personalized details such as a digital wedding mood board and custom playlist, all facilitated through Floravere’s digital questionnaire. The private suites also include selfie cameras where brides-to-be can take high-quality, photo booth-style images in their dress.
“We know what venue she’s getting married in, we know what kind of mood and vibe she’s going for so the stylist has already pulled some accessories that she thinks will pair well with the gown,” said Kang. “We call it the ‘Instagram-to-IRL’ (In Real Life) experience, where all that rich information you know about the shopper is really translated into the store. That was the vision of the retail experience we wanted to build. I personally think it’s so frustrating when you look online, know what you’re going to shop for and then you get to the store and you don’t get that style.”
At the store, brides also can shop for looks and accessories for additional wedding-related events including engagement, bachelorette and bridal parties, as well as the honeymoon. The space offers a curated showroom including swimwear from Solid & Striped, travel essentials from Cuyana, jewelry and headpieces from Jennifer Behr, fine jewelry from J. Hannah and Ceremony, lingerie from Journelle, conscious beauty from Kosas, fragrance from Dedcool and home decor from The Land of Belle.
Showrooms Cater To Local, Urban Audiences
With showrooms established in cities such as Austin, Texas; Boston; Chicago; Denver; San Francisco and Washington, D.C., the Floravere team takes the initiative to select styles that will appeal to different audiences, and the retailer has gotten a better sense of how assortments must vary by city.
“Our stylists on the ground are the best conduit to understanding the local customer,” Kang said. “The kind of dress that a girl gravitates towards in Washington, D.C. is very different from the kind of dress she’s seeking in San Francisco or L.A. We’re tailoring the assortment to include the styles that are most relevant to her. That’s the beauty of being a DTC business and having the product be our own — we can really design into that, so our design team is constantly getting feedback from our stylists and offer to the specific cities.”
Following on the success of the New York flagship, Floravere is opening up its West Coast flagship store in the company’s home town of Los Angeles, and is opening a showroom in Philadelphia in Fall 2019.